« AnteriorContinuar »
other good quality, and I conceive that common usage makes the use of the word in these instances too familiar to require further definition. In what other sense you can possibly understand the word love as applied to God or our Saviour, I am at a loss to imagine. We should not very readily give a man credit for superior love to his king or country, or to virtue or justice, because he was in the habit of giving way to untimely expressions of fondness and admiration, and was continually going off into rhapsodies about their merits. We should rather be apt to suspect such display of enthusiasm; and even if convinced of its sincerity, still we should but little approve such manifestation of his feelings, far less be disposed to allow to such manifestation, a monopoly of all the loyalty, patriotism, virtue, or justice, in the country. In your conclusion, however, you appear almost unconsciously to have come round to our opinions upon the subject, and to allow, “ diligent obedience, or patient suffering," (p. 90), to be the only real manifestations of love towards God!
Your ovations for victory are loud and long, and you are right welcome to all the triumphs you have gained ! When you can convict the higher classes of England of denying that God, whether Creator or Redeemer, is a just object of reverential gratitude, and undoubting trust ; that the Gospel is a message of mercy, therefore a subject for hope, or contending that prayer to be effectual, need not be made with humility, reverence, sincere heart, and attentive mind; then, and not till then, will this whole section of twenty-seven pages be any thing more than vague unmeaning declamation, or your victory greater, than that of the little Burgess of Perth, in Scott's novel, over the palum in his garden. As for us, we neither wish “ indifference” in religion to usurp the name of “rational;" nor affectation to usurp the name of “real !”
CHAP. III. $ 3. 8vo. Edit. p. 91.
Inadequate conceptions concerning the Holy Spirit's operations.
SIR, In the third section of your third chapter, you charge us under the honourable appellation of “ nominal Christians," with inadequate conceptions concerning the Holy Spirits operations; but here, as before, I have to complain that you neither define our opinions nor your own; you merely quote certain detached expressions of Scripture, and leave the matter in whatever doubt it originally stood. If you mean to say, that the operation of the Spirit is to supersede all necessity of our co-operation, we certainly differ, not otherwise. But this idea, although you would seem to assert it, and re-assert it over and over again, throughout your book, and denounce every body who holds it not, as no Christian ; yet, on the other hand, you so abundantly deny and disprove it immediately after
each assertion, that a charge of believing it could not be established against you. If you are not afraid or ashamed of your opinions, why thus go backwards and forwards to the certain danger of leaving your instructions, at least doubtful, to those who would really wish to profit by them? What may be the exact nature and degree of the operations of the Holy Spirit upon Christians of the present day, whether generally or individually, and how the term is to be definitely understood, must, in the nature of things, remain matter of opinion, about which the best and most sincere will partially differ. You may have one opinion, I another ; but we have, neither of us, any right to do more than humbly propose such opinion for the adoption of others : I say neither of us, for I suppose you not to claim the inspiration of an apostle more than myself, and without this, you have no right to impose even your interpretation ; and if you assume the right of doing so, your explanation should at least be definite.
You next, under the title of “ Mistaken conceptions, entertained by nominal Christians, of the terms of acceptance with God,” (p. 93), proceed in a long preliminary tirade, charging us, too truly perhaps, with laxity, and a want of general religion ; but not a syllable of erroneous opinions, unless it be a re-hint at the old accusation of not relying
sufficiently upon the merits of Christ. What may be sufficiently, God only knows; but you, Sir, appear to me, throughout, to confound our faith and our practice, and to charge us alternately with relying too much, and too little, upon the merits of our Saviour. For primary justification, by which we understand the amnesty which is to bring us into a “state of salvation;" we rely wholly and entirely upon Christ. Secondly, upon his promised assistance to enable us to fulfil the terms required to render that amnesty ultimately effective. And, thirdly, upon his mercy alone, in accepting, from knowledge of our weakness, what must, at last, be but an imperfect performance, on our part, of those terms. We acknowledge, and attempt not before God, either to excuse or palliate our sins of wilfulness. If this be error, God forgive us! but, ere we renounce it, it must be proved erroneous, and to consist in more than the ambiguities of language, which I suspect again to be the root of the difference between us, if not the whole.
We now come to what you call “ Our fundamental misconception of the scheme and essential principle of the Gospel :” (p. 98, 99)'.
Upon note (A) p. 98, I have to remark, that the conduct of Mr. Wilberforce's school appears to be just that which has always been a tether to religious improvement. Are we for ever to have Christianity mystified merely to spare the sort of ancestral vanity